A third consecutive win at Camping World Stadium is Orlando Pride's target as they host Western New York Flash with both teams progressing hand in hand, as they have each collected six points after four match days. While Tom Sermanni's club saw off Seattle Reign 2-0 last weekend, the Flash collected three important points against Sky Blue FC.
Here is our scouting report on the Flash:
A dramatic second-half comeback saw the Flash collect three vital points on the road against Sky Blue, which enabled them to join the Pride at six points in four games. Before we focus on their tactical system, it's worth noting that last week WNY Flash utilized Jeon-Ga-Eul, who became the first South Korean to appear in any NWSL match. Shifting to tactics, having fallen heavily to Washington Spirit the week before, Paul Riley needed answers from his team and he maintained the same shape. However, he did change some individuals, such as the South Korean. Riley's 4-2-1-3 formation constantly changes to a 4-3-2-1 when defending and a potential 4-2-4 when in possession, and that is why he put Jeon in the mix, as she possess lot of creativity, which enables her teammates to push forward and wait for her killer ball.
GK Sabrina D'Angelo (#1)
After a shaky start to the new NWSL campaign, Sabrina D'Angelo is starting to show her true qualities and proving she can be the Flash's No. 1 for this campaign. The Canadian goalkeeper was one of the best players last weekend, earning a nomination for NWSL Save of the Week, although she could have been named for the Save(s) of the Week for any of her numerous parries. Pride strikers need to be cautious and not underestimate her, as she has what it takes to steal three points for her team.
MF Samantha Mewis (#5)
The USWNT midfielder is the Flash's leader. Her experience gathered from her short call-ups with the USWNT and also from her debut season during the 2015 NWSL campaign -- where she collected four goals and four assists -- has made her comfortable and also has helped her to become more mature. She is mature in the sense that she is aware of her potential and what is required from her, despite her young age (23). In the meantime, she was included in the Goal of the Week nominees with her stupendous effort against Sky Blue.
F Jeon Ga-Eul (#7)
The South Korean could be a real threat to the Pride. Despite having almost no NWSL experience, she has already featured on the big stage with her national team, with whom she already has earned more than 70 caps, scoring more than 30 goals in the process. Her creativity could give those extra points this year to the Flash which would enable them to challenge for the ultimate prize.
Keys to Victory:
The Flash may adopt an attacking approach and may be one the teams that creates the most goal-scoring opportunities, however they lack clinical finishing and this is a huge drawback for them. If the Pride's back four remain compact and resilient, and force them to err up front, then Orlando can keep another clean sheet at home.
Exploit the flanks
Jaelene Hinkle and Elizabeth Eddy are two prominent fullbacks in NWSL. However, sometimes they are outrun by their opponents, and in most of the cases, they pay a heavy cost for this. Case in point, last week, when they went 1-0 down after Hinkle was beaten on the left flank. The Pride's wide players should seek one-on-one battles against their fullbacks in order to create a numerical advantage up front.
Penalties in what sense? Well, the WNY back four are sometimes clumsy in their challenges and they have already conceded a few penalties. Alex Morgan, Lianne Sanderson, or whoever plays up front, should seek to get into the penalty area and then try to win a foul. Set pieces -- or even better, penalties -- can be crucial in a tie like this where both teams need points.
You can watch the Pride's fourth match of the season on YouTube or below.